#6 Peru, February 26, 2000

Dear Everybody,

My Minneapolis friend, Jeanne Johnson arrived last Sunday evening; it’s very nice to have a companion. I had bought a bottle of Chilean wine which we drank (yes, the whole bottle!) after she arrived. The next day we spent the morning sightseeing the major Arequipa sites. For lunch we took a taxi to a lovely restaurant where unfortunately as I bit down on some tough cabrito, I badly fractured my upper front tooth! I got the name of a dentist from the hotel and he saw me at 7 pm. After xray and in consultation with a colleague, he determined that it could be crowned.

The next two days involved three more visits to the crowning dentist, with great success. In between visits we toured various colonial houses, churches and convents. I bought a baby alpaca turquoise cape.

Both dentists were surprised that I wasn’t having pain, as the break was most of the tooth. They said that later I may have pain, in which case I would need a root canal. Then they talked about writing a letter to my dentist—neither spoke much English—and I told them that my dentist was from Mexico, and so could read Spanish—which pleased them no end. So they sent the piece of tooth, the xray, and a letter which they both stamped and signed with great flourish, home with me.  It really worked out well.

We found some very good restaurants with typical Peruvian food, such as ocopa (potatoes with green peanut sauce), pickled pig’s head, French fried calamari, and choclo (huge kernel corn-on-the-cob with cheese).

We took a little bus to Paucarpata, a suburb, and walked three km to a mill (Molino de la Sabandia) which I had visited previously, which had been built in 1621 and recently restored—a pretty spot. During the walk we could see farmers planting potatoes on the Inca terraces.

Then Jeanne and I took a two-day tour to the Colca Canyon. We finally got a look at El Misti, one of three snow-capped mountains overlooking Arequipa, which we hadn’t seen because of clouds hanging over them. We saw many alpacas, llamas, and vicunas grazing in the valley. The second day we had perfect weather and saw at least 10 Peruvian condors! They are 40 inches in height, and their wingspan is nine feet. They weigh 27 pounds and they live up to 70 years. Were they beautiful soaring on the thermals!

Today Jeanne and I flew to Cusco and are staying in a really funky hotel—an old colonial house with carved doors, two courtyards and a religious alter in the breakfast room. Tomorrow we start our Cusco adventure.

I had been doing my aerobics every morning except when I’m up really high, like Cusco. When we were on our Colca Canyon tour we were up as high as 15,000 feet, and could ‘feel it.’  Getting in and out of the bus, and walking up the restaurant steps made us a little light-headed. Two of the people on our tour got sick from it and threw up. It can be dangerous, but we’re just fine.

We’re planning to spend seven days in and around Cusco before Jeanne goes home. Then I will do some other things.


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